Sunny Isles Beach commissioners may sue to force the sale of a small piece of property needed for a bridge, unless officials can negotiate a deal first.
The City Commission adopted a resolution last week authorizing eminent domain proceedings if negotiations break down with the Porto Bellagio condominium, 17100 North Bay Rd.
In 2001, the city approved Porto Bellagio with the condition that the condo give the city a 20-foot wide easement along the entire property to accommodate a bridge. The bridge would carry North Bay Road across a canal that separates 74th Street from 172nd Street, said City Manager Christopher Russo.
“The bridge will be primarily used for pedestrians and bicycles and in the event of an emergency it could be used for vehicles if there was a total blockage on Collins or emergency vehicles,” Russo said.
Now the city is seeking an additional 72 square feet of land for the easement. That property wasn’t called for in the original agreement.
An easement remains the property of the owner but gives the city the right to travel upon it.
The city says it needs the land so fire trucks will have enough room to turn around.
The approved resolution authorizes the city to negotiate “voluntary acquisition” or initiate eminent domain proceedings to force the issue.
The city also wants the removal of electric boxes constructed on the easement.
“They should not have been put there in the beginning,” Russo said.
At a previous commission meeting, on March 20, City Attorney Hans Ottinot said he’d made oral and email requests to the condo board about the easement agreement but had not received any response.
The commissioners decided then to hold off authorizing a lawsuit after Tucker Gibbs, an attorney for the Porto Bellagio stated that his client was “mystified” about the city threatening to sue and the first time they heard of the city’s request was in an email the preceding week.
Gibbs said at the March 20 meeting that the electrical boxes have been in place before the city acquired the easement and the city was aware of the boxes. He also stated the condo board needed an official letter seeking the movement of the boxes before the issue could be discussed amongst the condo board.
Ottinot said at the March 20 meeting that it was the first time the condo had asked for a formal letter, which occurred after the property manager of the condo was shown the resolution seeking legal proceedings.
A formal letter has since been sent to the Porto Bellagio but the city hasn’t received a response.
The condo board is meeting this week to discuss only the movement of the electric boxes and will respond to the city after the meeting, Gibbs said. Although the city has dropped off documents about the additional “sliver” of land needed for the easement, Gibbs said there hasn’t been a formal request asking for additional property.